Online Course Timeline

Online Course Timeline

This page is intended as a general guide for course delivery; dates and timing may differ from this timeline depending on your Program, hiring circumstances, and/or academic term. The timeline charts “Milestones” for each time period to help you better manage important steps in the timing of your online course delivery.

4 weeks before

You’re hired!

Receive your Hiring Info ✔

Activate your Western Identity ✔

Course Outline Email ✔

Course Site Setup Email ✔

Provide your course outline for approval ✔

Important Contacts

(a) Faculty Affairs Coordinator
(b) Your Program Office
(c) Instructional Designer

a) Vangie Castillo, Faculty AffairsCoordinator will be in touch ( regarding:information about your hiring package; your Western Identity (login and password credentials)

b) The Graduate Programs, AQ, or Teacher Education Programs Office will be in touch with information about the course you are teaching. Check to see if your program office has an outline or expectations from which to build your new course.

c) An Instructional Designer will create your online course site through Western's OWL/Sakai leaning management system. You will be notified through e-mail once it is ready for you to use. All instructors are encouraged to use OWL, even if the course is on-site.

3 weeks before

Course outline approved: Set up your course!

Touch base with your Instructional Designer ✔

Upload your APPROVED Outline to OWL ✔

Learn how to use OWL ✔

Order any course materials! ✔

Consider library services ✔

Important Contacts

(a) Your Program Office
(b) Instructional Designer
(c) Western Book Store
(d) Western Libraries
(e) Denise Horoky

(a) You may be asked to provide a syllabus or course outline for approval 3 weeks before the term begins.

(b) Touch base with the Instructional Designer in charge of your program area to discuss your familiarity with OWL and teaching online and to determine your academic and engagement goals.

(c) If you are using a textbook that students will be required to purchase please be sure to order it from our book store at as soon as possible.

(d) Western Libraries has electronic resources including databases and ebooks available for students. We have an electronic document delivery service (Digital Delivery) that delivers journal articles directly to your desktop:

(e) Get in touch with our Research and Instructional Services Librarian, Denise Horoky, at to discuss library support options available to you and your students. Email assistance is available to you and your students via

2 weeks before

Design your course site!

Populate your OWL site ✔

Think about technology integration ✔

Course design meeting  ✔

Important Contacts

(a) Instructional Designer

(a) Design your course as per your syllabus, create any media, and move materials to your online course site with help from your Instructional Designer. Ensure that instructions and explanations are included to help guide students through your course (ie. technology, collaborate, tutorials if needed).

1 week before

Publish your course site!

Course Site Basics are in place ✔

Make a welcome announcement ✔

Planning on using Collaborate? ✔

Important Contacts

(a) Instructional Designer
(b) Your students!

(a) Make sure that your OWL course site has these basic sections: a Welcome/Introduction on your Homepage (video encouraged); your contact information; your approved syllabus; electronic copies or links to your first 1-2 weeks of readings; extra tools/sections in progress hidden; your first week's Forum topic listed. Publish your site by clicking Publish Now! If you are planning on hosting a synchronous session to introduce your course contact your Instructional Designer to arrange for moderation support.

(b) Send a welcome Announcement through OWL to notify your students that your OWL course site is available. Be sure to push your announcement to your students' email addresses by selecting "Email Notification - High All Participants".

First day of your course

Day 1 checklist!

Make sure your OWL course site is published ✔

Send a first-day-of-course Announcement ✔

Important Contacts

(a) Your students!

(a) First, ensure your course site is published. Next, make sure that the following items can be found on your published course site:

  1. A personal message to your students (Homepage)
  2. Your course Syllabus
  3. A course Announcement
  4. The first two weeks of readings are available (Lessons or Resources)
  5. Week 1’s Forum topic is posted

Make an effort to get in contact with your students through OWL's Announcements, Messages and/or through a Welcome message on your Homepage. If you or any of your students are having trouble accessing your course site contact the Instructional Designer in charge of your program or direct students to during business hours.

First week of your course

Meet your students!

Plan a thoughtful introductory activity ✔

Host/plan a Collaborate Session (optional) ✔

Important Contacts

(a) Your students
(b) Instructional Designer

(a) Depending on your course or program, your students may already be familiar with their colleagues. Focus on introducing yourself and building instructor presence in your course rather than repetitive ice breaker activities. A thoughtful icebreaker activity such as having students introduce themselves via video, podcast, or through a synchronous classroom session (Collaborate), is encouraged.

(b) Host/plan a Collaborate session to introduce your course outcomes and go through your Syllabus (optional). Contact your Instructional Designer to arrange moderation support.

Before an Assignment is Due

Set up your assignment and prepare your students.

Create and publish your assignment using OWL's Assignments tool ✔

Communicate your expectations to your students ✔

Important Contacts

(a) Your students
(b) Instructional Designer

In an online course, assignment expectations should be stated as clearly and simply as possible to your students (including your expected file format and how/where they should submit their work!).

(a) Make a course Announcement to students one week before a due date or when your Assignment is open. State the objectives of your assignment in multiple locations (Syllabus, Assignments, Announcements) and make sure students know where they will hand in their work (Assignments, DropBox?, etc.).

(b) If you need help setting up your Assignments, configuring your submission settings, or adding it to your Gradebook, please see our Learn OWL pages and/or contact your instructional designer.

Halfway through your Course

Gather mid-term feedback!

Allow students to give you feedback ✔

Important Contacts

(a) Your students
(b) Instructional Designer (discuss survey options)

(a) Using a survey tool such as OWL's Polls, Google Forms, Survey Monkey, or Western's survey solution Qualtrics, plan to gather mid-term feedback from your students. One click self-assessments or "Stop > Start > Continue" models have been successful in past online courses.

(b) Contact your instructional designer for information about using OWL's Polls or alternative survey tools Google Forms can be embedded directly on your OWL site.

End of Term...

Submit your course grades!

Wrap-up course activities ✔

Enter final course grades into Gradebook ✔

Submit final course grades for approval ✔

Display course grades to students (optional) ✔

Important Contacts

(a) Instructional Designer (assistance with OWL Gradebook)
(b) Your Program Office (grade approval)(c) Your Students!

(a) Once your final assignments are handed in and graded, you MUST enter your students' final course grades into OWL's Gradebook tool. See our Learn OWL pages. Your instructional designer can help you navigate OWL's Gradebook tool.

(b) Submit your students' final grades (through OWL's Gradebook) to your Program Office for approval before making the grade's visible to your students. You will receive a confirmation notification from OWL and a confirmation email from your Program Office. When your grades have been approved, you may display them to students through the Gradebook tool.

(c) Send a final course Announcement to students through your OWL site to wrap up your course. If you opt to display your approved course grades to students through OWL's Gradebook, be sure to also send a course Announcement (and opt to push it to email) to students to notify them that their grades are now available through OWL.